Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Hands-On) (Wii) Preview

By Mike Mason 19.09.2009 2

Review for Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Hands-On) on Wii

'Gorgeous' is a word that sums up Muramasa, Vanillaware's debut Wii title. 'Exquisite' is another. Delve beyond the visuals, though, and you have gameplay that almost matches up to how it looks.

Muramasa is a game that impressed as soon as it was announced, but seeing it on a TV is something else entirely to a tiny trailer on the Internet. The love that has gone into the art pours out of the screen. The backgrounds are completely hand-painted in a variety of beautiful hues, and thankfully the animation is flawless, too. On one occasion during play I had to actually stop to take in a field environment with corn swaying in the breeze. The backgrounds are multi-layered, and in the distance you can see areas similar to ones you have just left.

Yet during fight scenes, you have little time to fawn over how pretty it is You can go a couple of screens without seeing anything, Vanillaware content to let you jump and float around collecting orbs, but when you do enter a combat scene - signalled with a cry and bang of Taiko drums - all heck breaks loose. Enemies tumble in from every side hurling all kinds of physical abuse, and although combat is fairly simplistic - a matter of hitting A, jumping around, tapping B for special attacks and C to switch swords - it is intensely satisfying. It's important to remember to keep your blades, of which you can hold three at a time, in rotation so that they do not break - if they do, you'll have to switch to a different weapon until your fallen blade has mystically healed itself. Boss fights require great patience; a battle against several overgrown centipedes took ten to fifteen minutes as weak points were discovered and health slowly chipped away. It was essential not to dive in and spam the A button; doing so caused a weapon to be temporarily lost.

Screenshot for Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Hands-On) on Wii

There's an easy or hard option in Muramasa, and it's likely that the majority will opt for the former, as I did for my playtest. Here, blocking and such is handled automatically, whereas in hard it is manual, thus taking up the challenge considerably. I was told of one outlet being unable to get past a single screen without great difficulty on this mode, and so it seems like it will be a slog to test even the most hardened expert.

You're also able to choose between one of two characters: Momohime or Kisuke. Each handles slightly differently and opens up a new route to traverse the world collecting the 100+ swords, each blade having its own unique special power. They're also colour-coded, so some can destroy coloured barriers that otherwise block progression. The two characters' stories cross over briefly, but generally they are going about their own agendas; one starts to the left of the world, the other the right, and so they may pass through the same or similar levels in an altered order; the first level of Kisuke may be close to Momohime's last, for example.

Screenshot for Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Hands-On) on Wii

Final Thoughts

It's refreshing to see a 2D title given so much care, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade is looking like the crown jewel in Rising Star's Christmas line-up. It's beautiful, it plays well and there seems to be a lot of game in there. I got absorbed in it for 40 - 60 minutes and it was nowhere near enough - you owe it to yourself and your Wii to play it.

Developer

Vanillaware

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (12 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This truly is one of the best games to appear on Wii so far and with any luck Rising Star Games will have a massive hit on its hands, with the game selling far in excess of Odin Sphere (which Square Enix brought to Europe on PS2).

Cheers for the impressions, Mike. Hopefully there are plenty of C3 readers set to pick this up upon release!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Ok, I will get this then, it's decided! Cheers for the heads up man! Smilie

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